In 1978, NBC aired a television miniseries called Holocaust. It was the first of many powerful TV movies to dramatize the horrors of the Nazi campaign to exterminate the Jews during World War II. The public’s response to depictions of this tragedy invariably ends with the vow “Never Again!”

Fred and I wrote a Viewer’s Guide to Holocaust and were therefore invited to many of the press functions organized to assess audience reactions. A speaker on each occasion was Rabbi Marc Tannenbaum from the American Jewish Committee. He sat on the podium and listened to historians talk about the film’s accuracy and to Holocaust survivors share their varied opinions of it. Then Rabbi Tannenbaum stood up and talked about the boat people of Cambodia. The campaign of terror by the Khmer Rouge against the Cambodian people was in full swing at that time and thousands of people were fleeing the genocide in dangerously unseaworthy vessels.

I remember thinking, “Here he goes again” when, for the third time, I heard Tannenbaum begin the boat people speech. Other people at the press conference clearly did not appreciate what they considered to be a change of subject. A few TV critics became restless, wanting to focus on information about the Holocaust they could use in their reviews. Not a few of the survivors became visibly upset with this speech, some murmuring that the horror of the Holocaust was unique.

But Tannenbaum kept talking about the suffering of the boat people. Never again? Now is again! He said so over and over. Today, when I hear news reports from Rwanda, Bosnia, Tibet, Burma – oh, the list does go on – I still hear his insistent, prophetic voice.